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New Research Reveals 1.35 Million Youths A Year Obtain Serious Sports Injuries

With fall sports back in full swing, hundreds of thousands of Triangle-area youth and their parents are thinking about how they can avoid injury and stay in the game all season – whether it be football, soccer, volleyball, cheerleading, lacrosse or cross-country.

Last month, USA Today highlighted results from a study conducted by nonprofit advocacy group, SafeKids Worldwide, which found that more than 1 million youths a year obtain a sports injury serious enough to send them to the ER. The most common types of injuries include strains or sprains, fractures, contusions and concussions. And football (394,350 injuries), soccer (172,470 injuries), volleyball (43,190 injuries) and cheerleading (37,770 injuries) rank in the top 10 sports associated with the most injuries. These sobering statistics leave many wondering how common sports-related injuries can be prevented.

What’s interesting is that teenage athletes are injured at about the same rate as professional athletes, but injuries that affect high school athletes are often different from those that affect adult athletes, primarily because teens are often still growing. High school sports injuries can also cause lasting problems that require surgery as an adult and could lead to arthritis later in life. I see this in my practice everyday – people who have sustained injuries in high school or college that required surgery often end up feeling the effects of these injuries as they get into their 40s and 50s – at a time when they are trying to re-enter exercise for health and vitality reasons and are now limited in what they can do.

However, “athletes” of all kinds – from kids to aging weekend warriors – can significantly reduce their risk for injury and ensure they stay in the game all season. Warming up and cooling down before and after engaging in a sport, staying hydrated, incorporating strength training and stretching into the mix and cross-training to avoid overuse injuries are just a few simple steps people can take to decrease their risk of falling prey to injury.

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